Pursuit: Stolen Car Collisions Injure Homeland Security Agent, Njsp Detectives, Teen Thief

UPDATE: Two New Jersey State Police detectives were struck and a U.S. Homeland Security agent rammed head-on by a quartet of car thieves, one of them a 15-year-old who had his leg broken during a pursuit, authorities confirmed.

From left: Zanier Riley, Muhammad Lopez, Isaiah Griffin

From left: Zanier Riley, Muhammad Lopez, Isaiah Griffin

Photo Credit: MUGSHOTS: ECCF

Three adults and the injured juvenile were seized following a chain reaction of collisions in Newark involving a stolen SUV, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said on Friday, June 30.

It began with the theft of the 2021 BMW X6 in Cedar Grove around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, June 22, the attorney general said.

Members of the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force were tracking the white crossover when it passed them in the area of North 6th Street a short time later, Platkin said.

The investigators monitored the BMW as it moved through the city, then followed it into a parking garage on Mount Prospect Avenue between Delavan Avenue and Ballantine Parkway.

The detectives emerged from their vehicles when the SUV driver hit the gas and headed straight for them before stopping, the attorney general said.

An officer immediately opened the rear door to try and get at the driver, but he put the BMW in reverse and accelerated backward before shifting back into drive, Platkin said.

Ignoring commands to stop, the teen driver headed for the exit, hitting two officers in the process, he said.

The SUV was speeding through city streets when it collided head-on moments later with a vehicle on Empire Street outside Weequahic Park just below Route 22. Behind the wheel was a Homeland Security Investigations supervisory agent on his way to work.

All four occupants bailed out after the BMW hit a fence on Meeker Street near Empire Street, with at least one cutting through the park.

The juvenile was running when an unmarked police car hit him, breaking his leg, Platkin said.

The stolen BMW driver, identified as Isaiah Griffin, 19, was also captured, as were passengers Muhammad Lopez, 22, and Zanier Riley, 19.

The Newark trio all remained in custody on Friday.

Griffin and Lopez already have adult histories, having been arrested and jailed a number of times over the past couple of years, records show.

Griffin is charged this time with aggravated assault while eluding police, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, employing a juvenile in a crime and illegal weapons offenses, as well as theft and conspiracy.

Lopez and Riley are charged with theft, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest. The juvenile was issued delinquency complaints based on similar charges.

“In a state with the population density and traffic volumes that New Jersey has, situations like this are extraordinarily dangerous,” said Derek Nececkas, the acting director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Fortunately, neither the Homeland Security supervisor nor the NJSP detectives were seriously injured. All were taken to nearby University Hospital for treatment before being released.

"Fortunately, everyone is expected to fully recover after receiving excellent medical care from the medical staff [there]," said HSI Newark Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel.

Platkin worked closed with Patel and U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Phillip Sellinger, whose staff is considering possible federal charges against the thieves.

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